Sunday, July 29, 2018

Pre-market societies could sometimes have alot of violence

Non-capitalist or pre-capitalist societies can have quite a bit of violence. The first quote comes from The Making of Economic Society, 13e by Robert L. Heilbroner and William Milberg.

"It is difficult for us to reconstruct the violent tenor of much of feudal life, but one investigator has provided a statistic that may serve to make the point: Among the sons of English dukes, 46 percent of those born between 1330 and 1479 died violent deaths. Their life expectancy when violent death was excluded was 31 years; when violent death was included, it was but 24 years."
That came from T. H. Hollingsworth, “A Demographic Study of the British Ducal Families,” Population Studies, XI (1957–58). Imagine if someone told you that 46% of the sons of senators or Fortune 500 CEOs were going to die violently over the next 150 years.

Now there is a study out called "The Better Angels of Their Nature: Declining Violence through Time among Prehispanic Farmers of the Pueblo Southwest", American Antiquity, Volume 79, Number 3 / July 2014. See The Most Violent Era In America Was Before Europeans Arrived. It discusses some periods when native American life was quite violent. Here are some excerpts:
"Writing in the journal American Antiquity, Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler and colleagues document how nearly 90 percent of human remains from that period had trauma from blows to either their heads or parts of their arms.

"If we're identifying that much trauma, many were dying a violent death," said Kohler. The study also offers new clues to the mysterious depopulation of the northern Southwest, from a population of about 40,000 people in the mid-1200s to 0 in 30 years."
"It wasn't just violent deaths that poke holes in the harmony with the land and each other myth. A paper in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the Southwest also had a baby boom between 500 and 1300 that likely exceeded any population spurt on earth today. The northern Rio Grande also experienced population booms but the central Mesa Verde got more violent while the northern Rio Grande was less so.

Kohler has conjectures on why. Social structures among people in the northern Rio Grande changed so that they identified less with their kin and more with the larger pueblo and specific organizations that span many pueblos, such as medicine societies. The Rio Grande also had more commercial exchanges where craft specialists provided people both in the pueblo, and outsiders, specific things they needed, such as obsidian arrow points.

But in the central Mesa Verde, there was less specialization.

"When you don't have specialization in societies, there's a sense in which everybody is a competitor because everybody is doing the same thing," said Kohler. But with specialization, people are more dependent on each other and more reluctant to do harm."